Born in the music halls of England in the mid-19th century, burlesque was originally used to describe sketches that made fun of the lifestyle and entertainments of the rich. As time went on, young women in increasingly scanty clothing were used in these sketches to try and hold the audience’s attention. By the 1920s and 30s, the sketches were gone and burlesque had transitioned into a true striptease, with burlesque performers such as Gypsy Rose Lee becoming stars outside the theatres. By the 1960s, however, burlesque was fading out, with the incomparable Sally Rand and her fans one of the last great stars.
Today, burlesque is seeing a true revival in popularity. Burlesque style – that combination of ladylike glamour and naughty raunchiness – appeals to women of every size and background, and with elaborate performances seen in theatres from Las Vegas to London, burlesque is assuring its place as the classiest form of striptease.
Vintage Burlesque Style
Performance burlesque outfits can be quite flamboyant and raunchy, but injecting burlesque style into your everyday wear is easier than you think.
When it comes to vintage burlesque style, you will get a very strong feel of the looks from the 50s, all high heels and old-fashioned glamour. Curves are an integral part of burlesque, and the 50s hourglass figure remains the ideal. To maintain and smooth out your figure, look for a corset; there are many “friendly” corsets available that eschew bone stays in favor of more comfortable stiffeners. You will still have to learn how to breathe in it though!
The 50s also gives burlesque its makeup and hairstyles. Pinups from the era are a great guide for what to do; perfectly red lips, smoky eyes and painted nails are the norm. Burlesque hair is often considered the most difficult aspect of burlesque style; most of the styles in burlesque require a lot of hair pins, a lot of hairspray and a boatload of patience to put together.
To truly embrace burlesque style, you will want to start with your undergarments. Lingerie is the key to burlesque; complete outfits are created with what would otherwise be hidden beneath blouses and skirts. Whether your style is shy or flamboyant, burlesque allows you to channel your inner naughty lady. If you’re one of the more daring sorts, you can find deals on nipple pasties and lingerie through many online stores. Even if you are more conservative, you can inject some burlesque-style naughtiness into your daily wardrobe with a corset and stockings and, of course, don’t forget the garter belt!
Burlesque Style Out and About
Burlesque clubs, such as the Café de Paris in London, are an ideal place to try out your new burlesque style, as well as to get more ideas for burlesque fashion to try out. A burlesque theme is also a great plan for your next New Year’s party, or perhaps as a fun spin for a bachelorette party.
Burlesque style is all about celebrating the femininity and spirit of women, glorifying their bodies in every form and celebrating the idea of the naughty lady. Drawing from the styles of the past, modern burlesque style is sexy, sophisticated and easy for you to achieve.